The Slatest

Trump Is First President to Begin Tenure With Net Negative Approval Rating

President Donald Trump meets with members of the airline industry at the White House on Feb. 9.

Win McNamee/Getty Images

A mere 44 percent of Americans approve of the job President Donald Trump is doing as a newly inaugurated commander in chief. In contrast, 48 percent of Americans say they disapprove of Trump’s performance, according to the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll conducted Feb. 18–22.

Two days before Trump is set to address a joint session of Congress, the poll makes clear Trump is way less popular than any of his predecessors. In fact, Trump is the first president in the history of modern political polling to have a net negative approval rating at the beginning of his first term, a sharp contrast to his predecessors that enjoyed broad support when they started their tenures. Barack Obama, for example, had a net positive rating of 34 percent in his first month, which was similar to the approval rating that George W. Bush and Bill Clinton enjoyed. George H.W. Bush had an even higher net positive rating of 45 percent.

Beyond the broad disapproval, a whopping 32 percent of respondents said Trump’s first month in office showed he isn’t up to the job of commander in chief. Despite this lack of popularity, the poll does show that Republicans continue to broadly approve Trump’s performance and the views are remaining relatively stable. Plus there appears to be a key group of voters who dislike Trump but like at least some of what he stands for. While only 43 percent said they have a positive view of Trump and 59 percent said they don’t like him personally, 86 percent agreed with the president’s claim during his inaugural speech that a group of insiders was getting rich off the little guy. Americans, however, are more divided on other issues, such as Trump’s travel ban for people from seven majority-Muslim countries, which appears to split people pretty much down the middle.

Even if some of his policy proposals do have support, Americans appear to be seeing potential for long-term woes with his administration as 52 percent said the problems Trump has encountered are “unique to this administration and suggest real problems” while 43 percent described them as “growing pains.” Yet a majority of Americans do agree with Trump that journalists have it in for him as 51 percent say the news media has been too hard on the new administration.

The poll surveyed 1,000 people and has a margin of error of 3.1 percent.